June 1: Starting today, according to an ordinance passed last year, all businesses that contract their services to the city or county of San Francisco must offer health and other benefits to the unmarried domestic partners of their employees if those benefits are offered to employees' spouses. The regulation is the first of its kind in the nation, and is meant to bring contractors into line with the city's policy, adopted over the past several years, of extending benefits to domestic partners. It will affect more than 8,000 companies, social-service agencies, and municipalities. The new requirement has met with objections from a number of sources, including the Archdiocese of San Francisco, whose Catholic Charities receives city funding to provide services to AIDS patients and the homeless. The archbishop argues that it conflicts with Catholic teachings on homosexuality and on pre-marital cohabitation; accordingly, city and Church officials have agreed on vaguer wording, by which Catholic groups will extend benefits to any "legally domiciled member" of an employee's household.

The Skies

June 1: Saturn lies just above the waning crescent Moon an hour before sunrise. 13: Mars is close by the waxing Moon high in the southwest this evening. 20: Full Moon, also known this month as the Rose and Honey Moon and, among the Sioux, the Moon of Making Fat. 21: at 4:20 A.M. EDT, the Summer Solstice occurs, and summer begins. Most of the country has about five hours more of daylight now than it had in late December.


Bluefin-tuna season begins this month off the Atlantic coast. This year the western Atlantic stock of the northern bluefin appears on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources' "red list" of threatened animals. The IUCN, a nonprofit organization, does not have the authority to regulate catches; however, the designation could prompt tighter measures from the organization that does -- the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas. Once considered a nuisance by fishermen, bluefin have become increasingly popular in Japan since the early 1970s, when the first one was caught off New England, fresh-frozen, and flown to Tokyo. The spawning populations of the western Atlantic bluefin have plummeted accordingly (by 1992 they had fallen to a tenth of their 1975 levels), and bluefin are now one of the most expensive fish in the ocean, selling in Japan for as much as $80 a pound.


Planets June 15: Father's Day. A question many fathers will be hearing is "Will you accept the charges?" Although Father's Day ranks only third for holiday calling, behind Mother's Day and Christmas, it generates more collect calls than any other day of the year, according to the nation's largest long-distance network, AT&T (which would not say how many calls this amounts to). The reasons may include logistic and geographic factors. Minor children of divorced parents are nearly five times as likely to live with their mothers as with their fathers; in addition, according to one report, adult children of divorced or separated parents live, on average, twice as close to their mothers as to their fathers -- and thus may be more likely to incur long-distance charges when calling their fathers. There may also be a tendency among grown children to persist in thinking of their fathers as the family providers. In any case, fathers aren't alone in being dunned in this way: AT&T's second busiest day for collect calls is Mother's Day, and Valentine's Day is third.

Expiring Patent

Planets No. 4,209,167. Arm Wrestling Apparatus. "An arm wrestling apparatus including a base, an upstanding arm member pivotally connected to said base, a hand-engaging portion on the free end of said arm member, adjustable biasing means [for] pivotal movement of said upstanding arm member in one direction [and] rotatable means associated with said biasing means to control the tension therein."

Health & Safety

June 1: A Food and Drug Administration regulation aimed at bringing stronger quality control to the design of medium- and high-risk medical devices takes effect today. Manufacturers will be required to incorporate new checks and balances into the design process for these products, which include glucose monitors, pacemakers, ventilators, and cardiac defibrillators. Makers of glucose monitors, for example, will have to take into account the effects of possible electrical interference from computers, televisions, microwaves, telephones, and other home appliances and from other medical devices, and designers of defibrillators intended for use in both hospitals and ambulances will have to consider such things as storage temperatures in the ambulance, road shock and vibration, and the effects of the ambulance's siren. The new standards are intended to help limit both the dangers caused by faulty medical devices and the incidence of recalls.

75 Years Ago


Ellen N. La Motte, writing in the June, 1922, issue of The Atlantic Monthly: "In America, all matters relating to public health receive careful attention. No other country gives such careful study to questions that affect it, or makes such determined efforts to improve it and raise it to a higher level. In the last few years our attention has been drawn to a condition which has now become a grave menace to our national welfare, something which is extraneous, artificial, and wholly uncalled for, yet which is assuming such proportions that we must recognize it as a threatening danger. This is the great increase of the drug habit. To meet this danger, most drastic laws regulating the sale and distribution of drugs have been in force for a number of years; yet we see these laws, theoretically perfect, totally unable to cope with the situation."

Illustrations by Beppe Giacobbe

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